This week, Pinterest cracked the top 50 most trafficked websites in the U.S. with its now 25.3 million stateside visitors, but the social photo-sharing site has yet to determine how it will monetize all those pins. However, that hasn’t stopped other companies from using Pinterest’s growing popularity to generate revenue for themselves. Case in point: today, a new startup called Pinbooster is officially opening its doors, becoming the first ad platform which pays users to re-pin ad messages from brands.
Co-founded by Dave Weinberg and Ariel Remer, Pinbooster introduces a business model similar to pay-per-tweet services like Izea’s Sponsored Tweets or Adly, but one which is designed for Pinterest.
The founders said that both they and their wives were really into Pinterest, and Weinberg himself was a longtime pay-per-tweet user. “One of the things I was using on Twitter was Sponsored Tweets, where brands can pay users to advertise. I used it for years, I really liked it, and I even made some money off it,” he says. “I realized there was nothing like that on Pinterest, and we just needed to do it.”
The two set up the website in March, and worked with an NYC-based development team to build out the beta version of the service, funded in part by money raised from family and friends. During its private beta, which kicked of this May, Pinbooster signed up over 1,000 users who were interested in re-pinning brands’ ads, offering advertisers a combined reach of 13.5 million. And another 1,300 users have been sitting on a waiting list, ahead of today’s official launch.
The service works directly with advertisers, brands and agencies, offering them tools to segment Pinboosters’ paid pinners user base by criteria like number of followers, location, type of pinner (based on how pinners’ tag themselves), and how much the pinner is asking for to re-pin the brand’s ad. They then use the included campaign dashboard to create their message, add their photo and the destination URL. Pinbooster appends the required “#ad” hashtag to the ad text automatically.
On the users’ side, becoming a paid pinner is simple – all that’s required is a Pinterest account. Using proprietary algorithms, Pinbooster will suggest what a user should charge per pin, but it’s up to the individual to set their price. Users are emailed with the campaign offer, and if they accept, they can reword the brand’s message in their own voice – the only requirement that the “#ad” hashtag has to remain. (Pinbooster verifies this on their end before the payout is made).
To date, Pinbooster has run dozens of campaigns, including some with major brands in the beauty, home goods, and financial services space (names are off the record for now), as well as with smaller brands like recent 500 Startups grad Umba Box, which offers a monthly subscription service for handcrafted goods. One of the top pinners even received a payout of $1,000 for their re-pin, while other users set their price at $1 just to test the system. It’s far too early to determine what the average pin rates will be, as many advertisers are still figuring out their Pinterest strategy altogether, never mind their pin ad buys.
The founders tell me that they’re now in discussions with investors regarding a seed round, which will allow them to bring future development in-house. Interested users and advertisers can now sign up here to try out the service.